By Robert L. Mues   |   June 1st, 2019

PUBLISHER’S UPDATE: This “Blast from the Past” was originally posted on the Ohio Family Law Blog on August 15, 2008. I have updated it to add 9 new terms. This glossary is not a substitute for talking with your divorce lawyer about any of these divorce terms and the implications with your case.

What’s A Deposition? Common Divorce Terms [And Their Definitions]

divorce terms

If you find yourself involved in a divorce, custody case or other family law litigation you may run across some unfamiliar divorce terms. Here are some common ones with a short basic definition:

  • AFFIDAVIT – Information provided under oath.  Often times pertaining to current finances, debts and assets.
  • CORROBORATING WITNESS – In a non-contested divorce proceeding in Ohio, you will need to bring a corroborating witness for the final non-contested hearing. That witness will have a narrow role to briefly corroborate the facts surrounding the grounds for your divorce.
  • BAILIFF – The judge’s assistant who helps with the court docket and often oversees the decorum in the courtroom.
  • CONTEMPT – An action requesting the court to punish a person for violating a prior Court order.
  • CONTINUANCE – A delay or postponement of a scheduled court appearance.
  • CPO – A “civil protection order”. An order which can be issued by the court in a domestic violence proceeding requiring a person to vacate a home and cease all contact/communication.
  • DEPOSITION – A form of discovery where opposing counsel gets to ask questions orally to a party or witness under oath in the presence of a court reporter before trial.
  • DISCOVERY – The early phase of a case where each side requests information relevant to the issues at hand. This phase may include depositions, interrogatories, production of document requests, and requests for admissions.
  • DV – Short for a “Domestic Violence” action.
  • GAL – Short for “Guardian Ad Litem”. Typically, an advocate/attorney for a child. Please click here for links to several articles on GAL’s on this blog.
  • GROUNDS FOR DIVORCEOhio law sets forth 10 grounds which need to be proven in a divorce. In addition, Ohio law allows a divorce to be granted upon incompatibility if that ground is not denied.
  • GUIDELINES – Short for “child support guidelines.” Calculations made based on a statutory formula with many variables, which presents a starting point for child support determinations.
  • IN CAMERA – A private interview between the Judge/Magistrate and typically a child without the parents or lawyers in the room.
  • INTERROGATORIES – Part of the discovery phase where written questions are submitted to the opposing party for response.
  • LEGAL CUSTODY – The right to make major decisions about your child’s health care, education and religious upbringing.
  • MAGISTRATE – A lawyer appointed by the Judge to hear cases and make recommendations of the findings of the facts and the outcome. Virtually, the same power as the judge.
  • MEDIATION – A type of alternate dispute resolution (ADR) for resolving disputes in your divorce case to hopefully avoid a trial.
  • MOTION – A request (typically made in writing) to the court.
  • PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT – A written agreement executed before the marriage which sets forth each person’s rights if the marriage ends by death or divorce.
  • PRO SE – A party who is not represented by a lawyer is acting Pro Se.
  • QDRO – Short for a “Qualified Domestic Relations Order”. This is a specially drafted Court order with many technical nuances dividing a person’s retirement account.
  • RESTRAINING ORDER – An optional order that is typically issued at the start of a divorce proceeding to maintain the current status, avoid harassment, prohibit disposal of assets and to prohibit retaliation for the filing of the action.
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  • SHARED PARENTING – A parenting/custody Order where BOTH parents are equal custodial and residential parents of their child(ren). This does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split in parenting time.
  • SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE – An opportunity for counsel and the parties to meet at court to attempt to negotiate settlement of the case. Typically, the judge is available to meet with counsel to provide input in regards to disputed issues.
  • STIPULATION – An agreement on certain issues entered into by counsel and the parties to reduce the contested issues at trial.
  • VENUE – The county where the divorce is to be heard.

I hope that this list of words common in divorce proceedings is helpful!

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Robert L. MuesAbout The Author: Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog. Mr. Mues has also been a dog owner for 55+ years, and just recently, he and his wife are the owners of "Ralph", a rescued mixed Wire Hair and Jack Russell Terrier.

Blast From The Past: Lingo You Might Not Know From the Divorce World
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